Friday, January 8, 2010

The Thin Thread Makes All The Difference

We have all heard the expression that it was "by a thin thread" that something happened. It is true so many events in life, or throughout history, have come from such thin threads. The iconic movie "It's A Wonderful Life" where Jimmy Stewart's character, George Bailey, during a moment of crisis wished he had never been born. His desperate prayer was answered with an hapless angel sent to him to help him find his way. Through going back through his life and seeing what it would have been like for his family, friends, and town had George Bailey never been born. It showed the amazing links of lives we can touch with our own that we may never know.

Here is a true story of one or two of those thin threads many years ago, and some of the people who have made a mark on our own history that wouldn't have been here if this thread hadn't held.

While the Mayflower was sailing across the sea to The New World there was a huge storm. This storm battered the Mayflower as it carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic. A young passenger, John Howland, came up on deck, and the force of the storm swept him off the ship into the sea. He was sure to perish beneath the violent waves.

However, it seems God wasn't done with John Howland. He somehow managed to grab a rope that was trailing from the ship and hold on for dear life. His head disappeared below the surface, but men on deck hauled up the rope until he was pulled alongside the ship where they were able to get him fished out with a boat hook.

That thin thread held the seed for three future presidents so far. Watching from the deck of the Mayflower was a twelve year old girl, Elizabeth Tilley. She and John Howland eventually married. They had ten children who populated the New World giving Elizabeth and John eighty two grandchildren, and who knows how many future descendants.

Among those descendants were three presidents of the United States: Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the two George Bushes. Other descendants were Humphrey Bogart, Alec Baldwin, and Joseph Smith the founder of the Church of Later Day Saints. All of whom would never have been born had their shared ancestor, John Howland, had not been saved from the death grip of that stormy sea.

If you want to take it one step further, there was actually another rope dipped into the sea to save this line. In 1944 Ensign George H. W. Bush was pulled from the Pacific Ocean by crew members of the submarine USS Finback after his torpedo bomber was shot down.

Who knows who your life will touch, either directly or indirectly. Never underestimate your value.

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